Some Things Fishy
Recent studies by researchers in North America and Europe harnessing the new techniques have consistently found that 20 to 25 percent of the seafood products they check are fraudulently identified, fish geneticists say.
Labeling regulation means little if the “grouper” is really catfish or if gulf shrimp were spawned on a farm in Thailand.
Environmentalists, scientists and foodies are complaining that regulators are lax in policing seafood, and have been slow to adopt the latest scientific tools even though they are now readily available and easy to use.
The practice is, of course, qualitatively different from the renaming the fishing industry engaged in to make smaller, uglier, fish that were once not considered fit for human consumption sound more appetizing:
[O]range roughy…was originally called slimehead… Hake fish is a jawless thing that is eel-like. What is known as the Chilean sea bass was originally known as a Patagonian toothfish. In fact, it’s not only the renaming that you have to do, but a processing has to be done because you would not buy the fish if you saw them. Many of them are so ugly that they don’t look like fish. And so they are – the head is chopped off, for example. Monkfish, for example, it’s a big mouth with a little body attached to it. And you see them in the market mainly as a little body, because otherwise, you would think it’s a monstrous thing that you cannot eat.
That from a 2009 Fresh Air interview of Daniel Pauly, a professor at the Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia. Pauly warned that the global fishing industry has drastically depleted the number of fish in the oceans in a TNR article entitled, Aquacalypse Now: The End of Fish.
Monkfish photo via Sustainable Sushi.